Sunday, 18 November 2012

Mr Jagger and Mr Richards on their 50th anniversary

The New York Times reports the Stones’ forthcoming concerts in London and New Jersey in November. The article is illustrated by a charming picture of the group in 1962 with Brian Jones leading from the front in a narrow tie and sharp suit. Making much of the contradictory nature of their previously espoused anarchy John Pareles finds them now ‘disciplined’ and ‘a symbol of stability’.

What is most noticeable to a London ear is what must be the New York Times’ house style. After the first mention of a person’s full name the writer or sub then edits the name to title then surname. Thus in his interview from Paris Keith Richards becomes Mr Richards and Mick Jagger is Mr Jagger who can ‘twitch and shimmy all over a stage’.

To English ears in 2012 this seems unusually formal - Mr Richards conjuring up a strict Welsh primary school teacher and Mr Jagger the chap who used to be responsible for keeping the school clean and tidy. Jon Pareles first introduces the band’s manager in the early 80’s - Andrew Loog Oldham - who apparently urged them to become the “anti-Beatles” the opposite of an “ingratiating, uniformed, clean cut pop-rock band”. However there is no further reference to the band’s early guru so we never find out whether he would be given the title of Mr Loog Oldham or simply Mr Oldham. Never first names it seems not “Andrew” or “Keith” or Mick”.

It is a surprising example of what seems to be American formality compared with British informality - British newspapers regularly calling the Prime Minister “Cameron” and the prospective Archbishop of Canterbury “Welby”.

If you plan to write for New York Times you may need “The Official Style Guide Used by the Writers and Editors of the World's Most Authoritative Newspaper – The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage” available from Amazon. Guidance can be found page 87 under the heading “courtesy titles”. If interviewing a woman be very, very careful.

No one seems to know whether it was Churchill or George Bernard Shaw who said “The United States and Britain are two countries divided by a common language” but when it comes to giving your interviewees courtesy New York journalists take the prize.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The flame’s the same

When you want some useful background information talk to an 8 year old.
As we were waiting for the Olympic torch to arrive I wondered out loud
"How do they make sure the torch stays bright and sparkling after each of part of the relay?"
A child standing next to me said

"It’s a different torch for each person – the flame is the same. Everyone can then take the torch home and it is proof they’ve done it."
"Do they need proof?" I asked

"Yes because some people thought it was only for famous people and it’s not."

She had summed up the vision that the torch and its flame - carried by 8,000 people - had come to symbolise.

It was 7 o’clock in the morning and we were waiting in Camley Street Natural Park right next to the Regents Canal at Kings Cross.

The reserve is a hidden treasure between two railway stations and the canal  - a peaceful haven minutes away from the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras. Here you can see rare earthstar fungi, reed warblers, kingfishers, geese, mallards, and bats. The centre was built by volunteers and is part of the London Wildlife Trust’s network of centres and activity.
London Wildlife Trust

As Paris Walker arrived there were cheers – she had been put forward in recognition of her commitment to her local running club.

With great poise she took the torch on board the barge the Pirate Prince from the Pirate Castle club at Camden Lock. 

The barge set off for Kings Cross with stately grace – carrying the flame which was to light the Olympic cauldron. In front three kayaks were rowed solemnly by young people as the water on their oars caught the early morning sun.

Could they be medal winners one day?

When Prometheus stole fire from Zeus he didn’t know what he had started.

Monday, 11 June 2012

‘Another Time’ on Herm Island

A statue by Antony Gormley has been on Herm Island for two years and is now leaving. The 630kg cast iron figure is number XI of the work called 'Another Time'. The statue is a piece of contemporary art which evokes centuries of history and the figure looks out to the ocean embodying our human wonder and awe at the elements. Sometimes the only other presence is the sea birds wheeling and swooping on the rocky outcrop called ‘Le Minceau’.  

Although Antony Gormley’s stay on Herm has come to an end, it was initially thought the piece of art would only be on Herm for one year but after receiving such positive feedback the statue remained for a second year.

Herm is an island of astonishing beauty a ferry ride away from Guernsey.
The sea and sky reflect the light and the weather stormy or fair. It is one of the few places where you can feel the balm of a wild wind and think of another time.

Read more about Herm Island

Antony Gormley's work
Some of Antony Gormley’s other figures in landscape 'Another Time' are on Crosby beach near Liverpool.  
Photograph © Andrew Dunn,4 December 2005

Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ still embraces the North East from its place on the edge of Low Fell. Angel of the North

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Ted and Percy

Ted and Percy have their evening chat before tea – proper tea that is Ted’s just got a cup of tea for now. Tea isn’t to Percy’s taste he prefers warm milk with a bit of sugar.

“Do you remember when you went all the way to Calais and you were the first back?” said Ted

“I got a got a gold rosette for that one.....was it 1958 or ‘56?”

“ ’56” said Percy.

“Oh you’re right” said Ted “I hadn’t felt so proud as that since the Coronation and I had all the birds out of their cages.”

“What’s all the fuss about?” said Percy ruffling his feathers “I only came back to see the girlfriend as you never sent her out with me – and she had the right hump when I got back.....and it was you who got the rosette what did I get?”

“Fair dos” said Ted “Suppose you fancy some warm milk then?”

“Thought you’d never ask” said Percy.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Blogging - the sense of an ending

Blogging – where is the end the middle and the beginning?   I’ve produced and edited websites for about 15 years and I’ve written articles but I‘m fairly new to blogging so I started in May 2011 with Silk weave. I soon found it quite exhilarating to be able to publish my own thoughts and ideas at the click of a mouse. 

My web content editing business at Silk Sense is where I work with other people’s writing and content that they or their firms have produced. But now I’m able to do my own personal publishing via blogs. My first effort was an article that I’d written for general publication ‘Chilli the hot and not so cool spice’. I decided to divide it into four chunks thinking that 1,200 words would be too much in one go on the web.
In May I posted the first part and when I put the second part live a day or two later I realised that what you - the reader - sees is the latest first -‘So how hot is hot?’ So I wrote my article on Joseph Pilates with less concern for a beginning middle and an end.
So how easy is it to tell a story or create any suspense this way? Do I start with the end and work backwards?  Perhaps make each piece stand on its own?  Can blogs tell a story or are they just one-off musings?

Could a novel be posted as a blog? How would Charles Dickens tackle this?

Charles Dickens’  ‘Oliver Twist’ was originally published chapter by chapter under Dickens’ pen name ‘Boz’ in monthly instalments in Bentleys Miscellany a popular magazine that Dickens edited. Dickens began publishing chapters of Oliver Twist in February 1837. Dickens was good at ‘cliff hangers’ ensuring that at the end of each chapter there was a ‘what will happen next’ moment.  In order to get the next plot twist readers would have to wait until the next edition and buy the magazine.

The final chapter was published more than two years later in April 1839. It was then that the fate of Oliver Twist and Fagin the leader of the pickpockets was revealed.
Dicken's moustache (part of plaque in Marylebone Road)

Well - I think I’ve answered my own question – if Oliver Twist was written chronologically chapter by chapter as a blog the reader would see the last chapter first and it would begin

Fagin from Oliver Twist

 ‘As Fagin sat in his cell waiting to be hanged.....’